A Lost Skill

I drove up to Seattle the other day for my Grandpa’s 89th birthday party.  My Grandpa is kind of a badass – he only recently stopped playing tennis several times a week, and still hikes and lifts weights.  I’m convinced it’s because of all the martinis he used to drink.

While I was up there, I had to pump my own gas, like a barbarian!  It’s been a loooooong time since I’ve had a car that could handle a road trip.  And I’ve lived in Oregon for 7 years.  Consequently, 7 years is how long it’s been since I’ve pumped gas.  Turns out it’s like riding a bike.

I didn’t ride a bike at all during my young adulthood.  When I got back on one, it had probably been about 7 years since I’d ridden.  And I fell off a whole bunch, because, as it turns out, riding a bike is not “like riding a bike.”

Pumping gas was a similar experience, except with less bruising.  First, I pulled up to the pump and sat there for a few seconds. waiting for the attendant, before going, “Oh!  Right!” and getting out of the car.  Next, I carefully read the instructions on the screen, which were something along the lines of “Put your damn card in already; we haven’t got all day.”  So I put my card in, and pulled it out, like you do, and then put in my PIN, and I was just starting to think it was all going to be super easy, when the next instruction came up, which was, “Remove nozzle and push button.”

I removed the nozzle, and looked for a button on said nozzle.  There was no button.  I turned back to the screen, but there was no change in instruction.  So, I said to it, “Look, there’s no button.  There’s a trigger-thingy.  Should I pull the trigger thingy?”  It didn’t respond, so I put the nozzle in the tank (oh, yeah, I had already opened up the tank), pulled the trigger-thingy, and stepped back.  Nothing happened.

I looked around wildly for inspiration, and lo!  I beheld the buttons next to the screen, for selecting the grade of gas.  Ah, yes, I remembered.  We have to select the grade.  I selected the grade, and once again, stepped back expectantly.  Nothing happened.  I released the trigger-thingy and pushed it again, and lo!  It worked!

As the gas pumped, I looked around to make sure there weren’t any smug Washingtonians jeering at me, but thankfully, the Renton Shell station was pretty deserted at 8:00 on a Sunday morning.  So I waited for it to click off, and it did, and I grabbed the gas cap, and noticed that it had explicit instructions, which I thought was odd, because I didn’t remember it being all that complicated to put the cap back on.

The instructions told me to turn until it clicked and warned that if it didn’t click, my Check Engine light might come on.  So I turned it, and it stopped, but it didn’t click.  I spent about five minutes trying to get it to click and it never did, so I got back in my car, gingerly turned it on, and waited for it to catch on fire.  It didn’t, and the light didn’t come on, and I drove all the way back to Oregon and I still live.



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